Despite their reputation for being finicky, most roses are easy to grow and easy to propagate at home. “Propagating” simply means simply reproducing a plant from a simple cutting. Unlike seeds, which produce very different plants, rooted cuttings produce replicas of their parents. You don’t have to be a trained rosary to reproduce treasured family heirlooms or your favorite garden roses.
Understanding rose cuttings
Cuttings are simply pieces of rose stems taken at various stages of maturity. Some plants are very picky about the type of cutting, but roses are quite flexible. Rose cuttings can be taken from the new stems of the current year in three main stages of growth:
Softwood cuttings, which are fastest and easiest to root, are taken in late spring and early summer when flexible new stems are just beginning to mature. Premium softwood cuttings come from pencil-sized stalks beneath rose petals that have shed their petals.
Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken in late summer and early fall when new stems are partially mature. At this time, rose hips may form on the solid stems where flowers previously appeared.
Hardwood cuttings, which are the slowest and most difficult to root, are taken in late fall or early winter, when the year’s new stems have matured, hardened, and gone dormant.
You can improve your success at any stage of growth by treating cuttings with rooting hormone to stimulate root development and encourage growth. GardenTech® RootBoost™ Rooting Hormone helps to quickly grow new plants from cuttings on roses and other favorite plants like African violets, philodendrons, gardenias, coleus, hydrangeas and more.
The best softwood cuttings come just below wilting rose petals.
Prepare planting sites
Working with softwood cuttings allows some flexibility in how and where you place them for rooting and growing. However, cuttings should be planted right after they are taken, so prepare your place in advance. You can stick softwood cuttings directly into a prepared corner of your outdoor garden area, or plant them in containers or deep trays instead.
To plant in a garden, choose a spot with bright but indirect light so the cuttings aren’t stressed by too much sun or heat. Northern and eastern exposures are perfect rooting sites. Cultivate the soil in your new grow bed about 4 to 6 inches deep so it crumbles easily. If your soil is heavy, work in a small amount of sand to allow new roots to penetrate without much effort.
To start your cuttings in a tray or container, plant at least 6 inches deep to give new roots plenty of room to grow. A simple “soil” mixture of equal parts coarse sand and perlite or vermiculite works well. Pour the mixture thoroughly when you’re done.
Rose cuttings can be taken in the fall from stems below rose hips that have begun to form.
Take cuttings from roses
Weather and other factors can affect when softwood is ready for cutting, and southern regions differ greatly from northern growing regions. Don’t strictly base your timing on a calendar; look to your roses instead – and their fading petals.
Before you start, get these basic things:
A clean, sharp knife or bypass pruning shears
A bucket of warm water to keep the cuttings moist
RootBoost™ rooting hormone
A small bowl to hold the rooting hormone for dipping
A small stick or pencil to make planting holes
Take rose cuttings from strong, healthy plants in the morning hours when they are well hydrated. Follow these simple steps:
Choose a stem or stems between a faded bloom and the woody base of the rose. One stem will make multiple cuttings.
Remove the flower and the tip of the stem. Cut at a 45 degree angle just above the first set of leaves at the top and again above the last set of leaves at the bottom of the stem. Put cut stalks in water immediately.
Cut each stem into 6- to 8-inch lengths so that each cutting has four “nodes” — that’s where leaves will grow on the stems.1 Always keep the cuttings moist.
Remove all but one set of leaves at the top of each cutting. This will help the cuttings root and help you gauge their progress.
Pour a small amount of RootBoost™ Rooting Hormone into dhe shell. Pour only what you need and discard the excess when you’re done.
Wet the bottom half of the cutting and dip it in the rooting hormone until covered.
Use a stick or pencil to make a 3 to 4 inch deep planting hole in your rooting bed or container. Make it big enough so you can insert the incision without brushing off the hormone.
Insert the cutting into the hole, covering its bottom half and at least two nodes1, then secure the soil around it.